Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Tuesday 31 March 2020

Purrfect Tessellations:- The Isle of Cats

Game: The Isle of Cats

Publisher: The City of Games

Designer: Frank West

Year: 2019

The Isle of Cats puts you in the shoes of benevolent sea-captains seeking to rescue the indigenous feline population of an island before a less benevolent pirate comes along. Just like your standard cat, these creatures are frustratingly capricious, so you'll need to weave baskets and fish up treats to tempt them aboard your ship. Once aboard their fear of water presumably keeps them in place! If you happen to find some treasure along the way, and your new feline friends deal with your rat problem, well all the better!

Each round each player will be given 20 fish which represents their morning catch. The central island will be surrounded by a number of cats in two locations before players draft a hand of 7 cards each. From your drafted hand of 7 cards, you can spend fish to buy the cards, or simply discard them if they aren't worth the cost. Cards come in a variety of types: Green cards contain boots and baskets which help you be the first player to collect cats and improve how many cats you can catch respectively. Blue cards are lessons which give end game scoring and can either be personal, or public. Gold cards grant you treasures which can be used to fill awkward gaps on your boat, bigger treasures are also worth points. Finally purple cards tend to reward you with Oshax, this elusive breed is not only larger than most other cats, but is very adaptive, being able to behave like any other colour of cat.

Saturday 28 March 2020

The Digital Game Shelf - Board Gaming During Covid-19

We're really lucky that, even under lockdown, we have each other to play games with. Amy and I have some extra time to play together now that I'm not commuting. So we're not desperate for gaming opportunities right now, but instead we still want to connect with friends. Chatting on Skype is OK, but gaming can be a great way to connect with a big group of people, or to avoid the negative subjects that chatting with each other inevitably leads to at the moment.

What I'm really enjoying right now is that I have the chance to get super creative with how we game. I love thinking outside the box and finding different ways to game and connect with people. Here's a few ways that we've played games in the last two weeks.

Friday 27 March 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Albedo: Yggdrasil

Game: Albedo: Yggdrasil

Publisher: Herbertz Entertainment UG

Designer: Kai Herbertz

Year: 2019

Albedo is the hidden gem of our board game collection. Of over 500 games we only have a very small number of games from indie publishers and Albedo is one of the only ones that I wish I could tell everyone to go out and buy!

We've met the designer at the UK Games Expo and Essen and he often has a small booth, as well as running Kickstarters for the base game and expansions. They only have small print runs and they're not the most polished games in the world, but more people should give this deckbuilder a chance. Albedo: Yggdrasil is the second expansion that has successfully funded on Kickstarter, following the previous expansion, Space Pirates. It brings on board a whole new faction - with a new way to play, as well as a new catch-up mechanism, and we've added it straight to our growing collection for this game.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element

Game: The Big Book of Madness: The Vth Element

Publisher: IELLO

Designer: Maxime Rambourg

Year: 2020

The Vth Element is the first expansion to The Big Book of Madness. When I saw the announcement of this expansion, I was really surprised to see that it was being expanded at all, given that the original game came out in 2015. We didn't discover The Big Book of Madness until a couple of years ago and when we did we felt like we'd found a hidden gem - a cooperative game that no-one seemed to talk about, that provided us with a good level of challenge and felt different to many of the other cooperative games we were playing at the time. It's been a staple of our collection ever since and so a new expansion was certainly something to get excited bout.

The Vth Element is a modular expansion, with both modules designed to add a little more challenge to the game. You can play with each module independently or play with both at the same time depending on your taste.

Saturday 21 March 2020

The Game Shelf's Airecon 2020 Round-Up

Last weekend, we visited Airecon, in Harrogate, UK, for the third time. Airecon is a 3 day event, held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Harrogate Convention Centre. Their focus is on open gaming - they claim to have the most open gaming of any European board game convention - and I wouldn't be surprised if that's true.

This year, given the global health concerns, in was touch-and-go whether Airecon would go ahead, but we, and many other people, did make the hard decision to take the risk and attend. Attendance was up on last year, which is a huge credit to the organisers, given how many people chose not to attend. It was also great to see a bunch of UK retailers and publishers getting what might be their last chance to sell at a convention for quite some time!

We had the chance to play a few demos with exhibitors and arranged a lot of larger games with old friends and new people. We also picked up more than a few games to add to our pile of shame at home!

Thursday 19 March 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Fast Sloths

 Game: Fast Sloths

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2019

Sloths are pretty slow! If I had to name slow animals, I might list snails, tortoises and then sloths. But, there's plenty of fast animals out there, and what if they could simply lend a hand, or a trunk, or a very long neck to help sloths get around?

In Fast Sloths, you're a sloth who's trying to visit all the trees in the local area. Other species are around to lend a hand, and traditional predator-prey relationships appear to have been set aside. You, the sloths, are the cargo in this pick-up-and-deliver game where players race to be the first to visit 8 trees. With twelve different species and only 6 used in the game, you can use a crocodile boat, be thrown by an orangutan, or travel between villages on the shoulders of a human.

Fast Sloths is a fast-paced, accessible, pick-up-and-deliver game for 2-5 players and its endearing cover and use of our favourite genre in gaming, shot it up the list of games we were excited for post-Essen. So let's see if it really delivers.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

A Relaxing Race:- Fast Sloths

Game: Fast Sloths

Publisher: Stronghold Games

Designer: Friedemann Friese

Year: 2019

Fast Sloths is a 2-5 player race game with a catch, you must win the race without having moved an inch by your own locomotion. Instead you must recruit the high-energy efforts of other animals to carry you to victory while you sloth about munching on leaves. There isn't a fixed race course, instead you are free to move about however you desire in order to collect 8 out of 9 leaves in your colour. You'll have to best recruit the varied abilities of the animals dotted around the resort if you want to be the 'fastest' sloth around!

Each turn you will draw a number of animal cards depending on how many leaves you have already collected (the more full you get the more slothful you feel about this whole 'race' thing). You then may play any number of one type of animal card from your hand. Exactly what the animals do vary wildly. The basic rules are that you can only move one animal of that type and they can move a number of spaces equal to the sum of the value of the cards you played. An animal may also pick up your sloth if they move within one hex of you and drop off your sloth either on their space or one of the surrounding hexes.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

The Game Shelf Reviews:- On the Underground: London/Berlin

Game: On the Underground: London/Berlin

Publisher: Ludicreations

Designer: Sebastian Bleasdale
Year: 2019

On The Underground was originally a 2006 title from Rio Grande Games, which has been out of print and hard to find for a long time. The new reprint from Ludicreations gives the game a fresh new look, as well as adding in a second map. Now you can play on the classic London map, with the original rules, or the new Berlin map, which introduces some different scoring mechanisms, which it swaps out for some of the old ones from the London map.

On The Underground is a competitive game of route building for 2-5 players. Players are responsible for building different underground lines, creating the best connectivity across the city to attract passengers, travelling to the different tourist sites.

Sunday 8 March 2020

The Game Shelf Previews:- Cleocatra

Game: Cleocatra

Publisher: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio

Designer:  Ta-Te Wu

Year: 2020


Cleocatra is the third cat-themed game we've seen from Ta-Te Wu and Sunrise Game Studio - all featuring the extremely endearing artwork of Kaiami. Their last successful Kickstarter was for Cat Rescue - an extremely clever cooperative game, and no they're back with Cleocatra - a tile-laying an worker placement game for 2-4 players.

In Cleocatra, players are Egyptian cat rescuers, and the goal is to save cats in pyramids. Cleocatra is coming to Kickstarter on 11th March 2020 and with feature lots of mini expansions, in addition to the basic and advanced games featured in this preview, plus stretch goals that might add more cat drawings to the game!

Thursday 5 March 2020

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Mechanica

Game: Mechanica

Publisher: Resonym

Designer: Mary Flanagan, Emma Hobday, Max Seidman

Year: 2019

Mechanica is a board game themed around roombas. Slightly evil roombas, but, doesn't everyone love roombas? Robot vacuum cleaners featured in Quirky Circuits - one of my favourite of 2019 and now I get to play a SECOND game with roombas in it?!

In Mechanica, you're not just limited to your standard roomba - you're building a roomba factory! Your sole purpose is to upgrade your factory and build upgraded roombas to sell for money or towards contracts. Mechanica takes mechanisms and theme and really blurs the lines - you're constructing a production line that you'll run every turn and you're literally building it in front of yourself out of puzzle pieces. I dare you to disobey the rule that recommends that you push the big button (first player toke each turn) to signify that it's time to run your production line! I dare you harder not to make a buzzer noise while you do it!

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Roomba, or Doomba?:- Mechanica

Game: Mechanica

Publisher: Resonym

Designer: Mary Flanagan, Emma Hobday, Max Seidman

Year: 2019

Mechanica is a 1-4 player engine building game in which you are the sole human operator of a factory that creates a range of murderous killbots fantastic cleaning robots. You'll earn money by shipping off constructed robots which you can then spend on buying new upgrades for your factory letting you make more or better robots. Gift-wrapping services or completing special orders will earn you money into your vault, this money isn't accessible to you during the game, but counts at the end. May the richest surviving human win!

At the start of the game you have only a single measly fabricator to your name, capable of producing a single roomba-style robot every turn. At the beginning of every round everyone will activate their factories moving each robot they own along the marked conveyor belts until it reaches the next hole. After moving their robots everyone will activate their equipment, this often involves destroying the robots in the input holes and replacing them with more/better robots on the output holes ready to move next round. While this starts simple, as you build more machines you can set up intricate factories to turn even meager input into fantastic robotic cleanliness!